I was recently talking to a friend who was a bit down.
He felt stuck in a rut, too tired to think about changing anything and yet, wishing things were different.
“Have you thought about joining a new small group at church? Maybe it will inject some ideas.”
“Yeah… thought about that…” He pauses. I wait. His eyes look tired. “I doubt it would help.”
“Well… it doesn’t hurt to try… You never know…” I tread carefully, trying not to oversimplify his predicament, still gently encouraging.
“It’s actually worse, if I try… ‘Cuz then, I might get my hopes up… Then, I’ll end up getting disappointed.”
Have you ever felt like my friend?
— Stuck in no man’s land — wishing things were different, yet wary of putting yourself out there to get let down… again?
There are many reasons we end up stuck in a rut.
~ We freeze up because we’re at a fork in the road — with neither path more inviting than the other.
~ We’ve drawn a line down the middle of our paper, labeled one side “Pros” and the other side “Cons” — and end up with both sides with an even list of bullet points (it’s amazing how creative we can get, heh?)
~ We’re taking the time for letting go and saying goodbye to yesterday’s summers. But, where we do we go from here?
These quiet seasons are necessary and good for gathering comfort.
We are also vulnerable during these transitions to grow too comfortable with safety.
It’s natural to feel this way when we’re in the middle of yesterday and tomorrow.
The List That Was Too Long
I had constructed a safe world for some time, choosing to lay low and make as few big changes as possible. I was healing from a bad “breakup” with my mom, lost some friends post-college and post-ministry, and I wasn’t quite sure where God was taking me next.
If I had been “wrong” about so many decisions I thought were right, what was to say I couldn’t be wrong again?
I wanted to be dead-sure God was saying “Yes” before I charted the next leg of my journey.
God allowed me to stay stalled in this strange place of reticence for a while.
Then, it struck me one night when I was away at a conference —
I am keeping a longer list of bad things that happened to me than the list of the good.
I wish I could tell you that I quickly whipped out a sheet of paper and started scribbling all the wonderful things that started filling my head.
The opposite happened.
I was flooded with everything I was discontented with, things that hurt me. My head swirled with why, why, why.
The Place of Honesty
Everyone comes to their point of need differently. For me — before I could truly feel that the good in my life numbered more than the bad — God had me first come to terms with everything bad I had experienced.
I was used to “moving on” quickly about things that got me down.
This time, God allowed me to come to a place of honesty — where I was disappointed and just not sure what to do next.
In that place of vulnerability, I realized what I needed to get unstuck.
What if I completely trusted God again?
As I looked back on what might have been, I hungered for the freedom to look forward to what could be in the future.
An Act of Trust
A month ago, I issued a Faith Barista challenge for readers to write on the topic of “What If”. There were many inspiring entries, one of which I’d like to share today.
An excerpt written by Glynn Young over at Faith, Fiction and Friends brought me back to that important turning point–
I realized I no longer wanted to look back, but I dared to draw a line in the sand — and asked God to help me trust Him again. Completely.
Asking What If was my act of trust.
What Might Have Been, Or What If
By Glynn Young
It is an act of courage
to ask what if;
It is an act of self-deception
to ask what might have been.
One looks forward, one looks backward;
both are ways to view the world.
Both are ways to understand one’s soul.
What if creates possibility;
what might have been celebrates regret.
What if grasps the thought of
what could be, what might be;
what might have been is gripped
by the memory of what never was.
My relationship with God took a 180 degree turn, the moment I turned to Him with my What-Might-Have-Beens. And He freed me to start learning to live by faith again.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses,
so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:9, 10
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
How do you get unstuck in a rut?
What encourages you to regain trust in God and move forward with the unknown?